‘CODA,’ Campion, and All the Best Moments of the 94th Academy Awards

Another Oscar night is in the books and CODA‘s name is forever emblazoned on the pillars of the Dolby Theater. In a night with very few surprise wins, it still managed to be a night full of surprises. And not just because of THAT moment. So let’s recap just a few, shall we?

For starters, we really must give a lot of credit to Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall. These three very funny and talented ladies stepped into what has become one of the most thankless jobs in Hollywood: The Oscars host. Not so many years ago, the announcement of the host was an event unto itself. How will Billy Crystal incorporate the nominees into the new opening number? Can Whoopi Goldberg come up with a better entrance than when she arrived by trapeze à la Moulin Rouge? But in the age of social media, it’s a gig that has become almost impossible.

The trio of Schumer/Sykes/Hall stepped up to a situation that became increasingly precarious as the Oscars approached. From extremely misogynist-laden complaints to all the shenanigans the Academy was pulling, it seemed everyone expected them to outright fail. And while some of their bits didn’t land (or, more often, took up space that could have been devoted to properly and fully celebrating all the nominees and winners), all three were funny and rose to the occasion. They deserve applause for making it through one of the toughest nights of the year.

As for the awards themselves, despite some chaos in the last few weeks (or maybe because of it, really), this ended up being a fairly easy ceremony to predict. I personally went 19/23 on my predictions, and that is entirely and completely because of stubbornness. As much as I tell people to get their heart out of their predictions, I just couldn’t let go of my hopes for Ari Wegner, even though it was pretty clear Greig Fraser was taking home that Oscar for cinematography. This wasn’t just based on me really, really wanting it. There were some conversations with people who are well-placed to know where the wind is blowing, and I do believe the race was closer between the two than some would choose to believe.

That stubbornness also had me sticking with Maggie Gyllenhaal and The Lost Daughter in Best Adapted Screenplay, even though it made absolute and complete sense for Siân Heder to win there too. My other misses were in Production Design and Original Song, and I maintain that those were not foregone conclusions. Either of them. My predictions were solid there. So, really, I should have gone 21/23 on the night, if only I had followed my own advice. Let this be a lesson!

There were a lot of exciting wins, even if they weren’t exactly surprises. Jessica Chastain and her incredible makeup team have worked together now on 16 films. So the fact that they all got to win together was very special, and it was something they celebrated on stage during their speeches, and backstage in the press room. Will Smith finally won his Oscar, and yes, it was just a few minutes after the most unexpected, bewildering, and intense moment in many, many years of watching the awards. The Smith/Rock feud was unfortunate and certainly cast a shadow on the remainder of the ceremony. And as a result of the incident, Smith skipped the press photos and interviews backstage.

Oscar® winners Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur, and Jessica Chastain pose backstage during the live ABC telecast of the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

But three jubilant actors had a lot to cheer about. Rounding out the acting categories, Ariana DeBose became the second Latina woman and first openly queer woman to win an acting award, 60 years after Rita Moreno won for the same role. And Troy Kotsur became the first Deaf man to win an Oscar, 35 years after his co-star Marlee Matlin became the first Deaf woman to do the same.

Dune won 6 Oscars, nearly sweeping in the techs. Aside from missing out in Makeup & Hair, they also lost Costume Design to Cruella‘s costumer Jenny Beavan, her third award in eleven nominations. And many were quick to point out that Dune managed all that technical prowess, apparently, without a director as Denis Villeneuve did not make it into the directing lineup. I’m calling it now, he’ll get nominated for Part 2.

Jane Campion poses with the Oscar® for Directing during the live ABC telecast of the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Richard Harbaugh / A.M.P.A.S.

It’s late and we’re all tired, so there will be plenty more to say tomorrow and beyond. But let’s just take a moment to appreciate and congratulate two extraordinary women who both went home tonight with Oscar statuettes. Jane Campion wins Best Director 27 years after her first trip with The Piano. Though it would be the only Oscar for The Power of the Dog, the love and respect and admiration for Campion is strong, and that was a very big moment for her. A moment that couldn’t have happened without the amazing team at Netflix who stepped back and let her make the film she wanted to make, and then championed it every step of the way.

And for the first time in the history of the Academy Awards, the split between Picture and Director went to two films that were both directed by women. Splits aren’t uncommon, especially in recent years, but Campion becomes only the third woman to win for directing, and both The Hurt Locker and Nomadland also won Best Picture. CODA and The Power of the Dog were the 17th and 18th woman-directed films nominated for Best Picture. CODA is now the first to win without its director even being nominated. Along with many other “firsts” that happened tonight, we’re heading into very exciting times.

It will be fascinating to see where we go from here.

This is the complete list of winners from the 94th Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture: CODA
  • Best Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Best Actor: Will Smith, King Richard
  • Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, CODA
  • Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Siân Heder, CODA
  • Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
  • Best Animated Feature: Encanto
  • Best Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Best International Feature: Drive My Car, Japan
  • Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Dune
  • Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan, Cruella
  • Best Film Editing: Joe Walker, Dune
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer, Dune
  • Best Original Song: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die
  • Best Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos, Dune
  • Best Sound: Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett, Dune
  • Best Visual Effects: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer, Dune
  • Best Animated Short Film: The Windshield Wiper, Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez
  • Best Documentary Short Subject: The Queen of Basketball, Ben Proudfoot
  • Best Live Action Short Film: The Long Goodbye, Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed

We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage this Oscars season. We’ll be bringing all sorts of Emmys content in the weeks and months to come!

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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